The year was 2008, a year that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was the very year that I would bleed uncontrollably for 8 months in fear of my life, after thinking I was having just another menstrual cycle. It was the year that I bled through every bottom I owned, regularly fainted or lacked energy to even walk around my college campus. To add insult to injury, it was also the year I gained 70 pounds uncontrollably, and losing scalp hair regularly, which would send me into a level of anxiety I had never experienced before. I was not understanding why my body had decided to betray me in this way. I was 22 years old, preparing to graduate college, and finally wanting to celebrate on fully walking into my womanhood. However, I now was sitting in and out of the doctor’s offices trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and more importantly, how can we fix it.
You can imagine watching your body transform negatively in front of your eyes brings on a certain level of confusion and trauma that only experience could provide relation. I was at a critical age of uncertainty regarding my future and now faced a battle of trying to ward off all the insecurities of these physical changes were bringing. My boyfriend at the time tried his hardest to be supportive, but he didn’t really know how to be because he was confused on how to help. I spent most of 2008 in tears and in emergency rooms. I was being tested for cancer, Cushings syndrome, and any other rare disease that could be thought of. The scariest memory I have during that time is fainting and being told that my blood count was reaching a point in which I would need a blood transfusion if they couldn’t get me to stop bleeding. I remember being on the phone with my mother crying, thinking that I was dying and just asking for her to pray for me. In that moment I just wanted to get well, by any means I was willing to do it all just to feel okay again. I had seen several gynecologist, taken steroid medications, birth control pills, and nothing seemed to be working. Then suddenly, a few days after my graduation, the bleeding stopped. I was thankful but still wanted to get to the bottom of why it took my body 8 months to stop having a period. I knew that I needed to continue researching to get to the bottom of my health scare.
In the Spring of 2009, once I got my first after college job, I scheduled a Well-Woman visit with my childhood gynecologist Dr. Arai. After asking me was there anything in-particular concerning me regarding my health, I explained my entire ordeal the previous year, and right away she suggested that we test for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She explained that it sounded like I had several cysts to rupture and visibly looking at me, I reminded her of the classic signs of patients with PCOS. At the time of my visit I had begun to grow a more prominent mustache, hair on my chest, and my stomach was noticeably large. We went back to the do an ultrasound and immediately, my ovaries were covered in cysts. I had 15 cysts on my right ovary and 8 cysts on my left. She scheduled more blood work to check my hormone levels, and upon their return, it was confirmed that I was suffering from PCOS. At that very moment a feeling of relief and then sadness came over me.
Although I was happy to finally understand what was going on with my body, reading the struggle I would be facing, including possibly having difficulty conceiving, I just began to slip into a feeling of hopelessness. Becoming a mother was one of those goals I always imagined reaching. At 16, I recall sitting around the lunch table discussing our future selves, mine always included multiple children. To now face the real possibility of being infertile or just struggling to achieve motherhood brought a sadness no one could ever imagine. I went through a period where I couldn’t hold babies or look at them too long without tearing up. I felt like I wasn’t a true woman once I was diagnosed with PCOS. I felt like somehow my femininity was flawed and like I was inadequate. It took many years before I would realize the blessing PCOS has been to me and was apart of my mission in life.
I stand before you today fully loving and advocating for all things related to PCOS. I began blogging and modeling to show women that you are beautiful just the way you are, and that you shouldn’t allow PCOS to make you feel defeated. Although those formative years after being diagnosed were a struggle, I found the most beautiful parts of who I am through the storm of highs and lows managing PCOS can be. Now I am able to help other women feel; secure, strong, and empowered through my self -love journey. Sharing my knowledge of PCOS to women who are feeling lost or like the battle alone has brought so many rewarding moments to my life. Knowing that I have helped another woman discover her strength and her options makes me happy. In so many ways, PCOS has been my blessing because it has opened my heart to be able to accept, nurture, and promote change. It allowed me to be a public figure that can educate and inspire others in ways I couldn’t dare imagine before.